Marketing is all about letting people know about the products or services you offer, their benefits and persuading people to buy or use them. Marketing communicates a consistent message to your ideal customers. To do this effectively, you’re going to need a marketing plan and marketing strategies.
What Does a Marketing Plan Do?
A marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. Done properly, your marketing plan will be the roadmap you follow to attract new customers and improve the success of your business.
To put together an effective marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. A business owner must be familiar with the business’s customer base, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the business’s competitors. These factors and others are identified in a well-prepared marketing plan.
Why Do I Need A Marketing Plan?
If you want your business to grow, you’ll need a marketing plan and strategies to get you there. Creating a marketing plan makes you think through and capture in writing your business goals and the steps needed to implement strategies to achieve your marketing objectives.
Small business owners often include their marketing plan as part of their overall business plan. Some include parts of the marketing plan in various sections of their business plan, while others attach the entire marketing plan as an appendix to their business plan.
What’s in a Marketing Plan?
A well thought out, comprehensive marketing plan should include:
- An in-depth understanding of your brand’s status and story
- A realistic assessment of your businesses’ strengths & weaknesses – what you do well, as well as what you could be doing better
- The competitive environment (including industry research, trends and more)
- An assessment of your competition – both local and national
- Comprehensive knowledge of the consumer and the demand for the product or service
- Detailed, realistic, attainable goals
- Specific strategies designed to achieve your goal
- Marketing tactics that will be used to implement your strategies
- Detailed budget
- Performance Measurement & Analysis
How to Create a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan should ideally cover a 12-month timeframe. This makes it easier to budget and manage the plan. Allow a month or two to develop your marketing plan, even if it’s only a few pages long.
Developing the plan is the time consuming “heavy lifting” of marketing. While executing the plan can have its challenges, planning – deciding what strategies to use and how to implement them – is marketing’s biggest challenge.
How Do You Use Your Marketing Plan?
When you’ve completed your marketing plan, don’t file it and forget it! During your hectic daily routine, it’s often next to impossible to focus your attention on the big picture and really think about your business. Our advice: do it anyway!
Refer to your marketing plan at least quarterly (monthly is even better). Since only constant in business is change, be prepared to make mid-course corrections or changes to your plan. It will help you stay on track and achieve your marketing goals.
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